Aims, Objectives and Background The number of refugees worldwide has increased, especially in recent times, due to wars, political instability and economic insecurity with Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria being the top five countries for asylum applications. Consequently, there are increasing numbers of refugee and asylum-seeking children entering the United Kingdom who face significant barriers to accessing healthcare services. These children often face health risks and therefore have complex health needs. Hence, it is vital for healthcare professionals in the emergency department to adopt a holistic approach to their care as this can have widespread positive implications beyond their clinical presentation and may shape their transition into a new country. This opinion article was undertaken with the aim of highlighting and summarising current best practice recommendations for addressing the needs of this complex patient group.
Method and Design A step-by-step screening tool (figure 1), CCHILDS (Communication, Communicable diseases, Health – physical and mental, Immunisation, Look after (safeguarding), Deficiencies, Sexual health) was formulated. This was created following a review of the literature, consultation with paediatric emergency clinicians and the use of current protocols in related disciplines (e.g. HEADDSS assessment tool). This tool can be used in the emergency setting by healthcare professionals in the assessment of refugee and asylum-seeking children and can serve as an aide memoire to cover the key aspects of a consultation.
Results and Conclusion This opinion article summarises three main aspects in the assessment of a refugee or asylum-seeking child in the paediatric emergency department. Firstly, the key considerations regarding the child’s background prior to entering the UK and the barriers they may encounter to accessing healthcare. Secondly, the healthcare assessment upon arrival to the emergency department and a framework that could be used for clinical assessment. Finally, the consideration of their long-term healthcare needs and the importance of empowering these young individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle.
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